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falsuss

Easter Eggs and Intellectual property

8 posts in this topic

I am designing a game for smartphone and asking myself questions about intellectual property ...

 

My game is going to be a scoring game with achievements. It's all Flat design. Each of this achievements will consists of a small picture, squared shape, with a name and a small funny sentence.

 

Bloks ( or Blocks, it's not yet decided ) will be the central piece of the game and manipulate those Bloks to perfrom good scores will be the goal of players.

 

I dont have the visual yet, but I will explain to you ^^

 

Here's an example of some achievements :

 

Name - Description or link to a visual - Sentence

 

1 - Terminablok - A Blok with sunglasses, red eyes, muscular jaw ... - Hasta la vista baby !

 

2 - Roblok - A Blok with Daft Punk Helmet ( something like that : http://d13yacurqjgara.cloudfront.net/users/183458/screenshots/1151984/daft_punk_random_access_memories_lors_2013_minimal.png ) - Harder Better Faster Higher

 

3 - Blokfeller - A Blok with the shape and colors of the Rockfeller Center - Top of the Blok !

 

4 - Teenblok - A Blok with the face of a teenager, every details amplified and caricatured, e.g. pimples, braces, Justin Bieber haircut ... - OMG it's Justiiiiiiin !

 

5 - Bloky 7 - A Blok with the face of Rocky Balboa - Adrian !!!

 

So that's of course Easter Eggs and stuff like that.

 

But the question is, do I have the right to do this ?

Is there intellectual property issues ?

 

Thanks you everbody !

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Thanks for the answer Tom.

 

I am not talking about copy pictures, sprites and reuse it on the game.

 

I will totally draw those special feature Bloks, that will remind famous places, characters ... to the player.

 

Here's another example to show you the kind of things I would like to do :

 

http://www.redesignrevolution.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Breaking-Bad-Flat-Illustration-Series-by-Mario-Macca.png

 

You can clearly say " This is Walter White !", but it's not a full copy of him.

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This seems like it would fall under Satire and not really an issue of rights.

If you required rights to mimic this stuff in a cartoonish Sprite then how do artists such as Craig Davison get away with it.

http://www.craigdavisonart.com/

Edited by Buster2000
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Also from the Wikipedia link that Tom posted there are several high profile cases that show that in the USA at least Personal rights are trumped by First Amendment rights.

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Thanks for your answers guys !

 

Some make me more confident and others skeptical with my choices =p

 

Others point of view will be appreciate.

 

Thanks again everybody.

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Also from the Wikipedia link that Tom posted there are several high profile cases that show that in the USA at least Personal rights are trumped by First Amendment rights.

 

how do artists such as Craig Davison get away with it.

Allow me to say that this is bad advice.

 

1. What Mr Davison does is draw little girls with pony tails kicking things and a roughly Batman-shaped shadow on the wall (could be some random loser with pointy ears wearing a cape too, however). There's some other drawings with boys and sticks, and a shadow with a rather clear referral to the archetypical pose of the Three Musketeers, etc. This is some form of carricature, and a quite funny and artistic one, too.

 

However, in every case, no direct reference to trademarked or copyrighted material is made, and the shadows are just good enough to be recognizable. This is a much different thing than actually drawing Batman. Also note that for example, the titles are like "To the bat cave", not "Batman", too. The author is careful not to cross the line of actually using a copyrighted/trademarked name or character.

 

2. You don't know if Mr. Davison maybe even has acquired explicit permission to use the original characters in this way.

 

3. You don't know whether he has a cease and desist letter in his mailbox right now, he might not be getting away with it.

 

4. The fact that he gets away with it doesn't mean you will get away with it. It doesn't bestow a "others do it too" right on you. Whether or not you get away with such a thing often depends on whether you attract the attention of someone who has a claim (or believes so) and whether they deem you a worthwhile target. If you are jobless and live in your mother's basement, you are maybe lucky and get away with a C&D letter which will cost you a thousand or so. If you make 150-200k per year and own a house, they might decide it's worth going to court and take away everything you own. But if you are annoying enough (in their eyes), they might do it anyway.

 

5. The wording "several high-profile cases" is equivalent to "several people ruined". You have to understand this correctly, you're not trumping anything there, you're losing.

Can you afford a lawsuit with an amount of dispute of around 50 or 100 million dollars or so? I can't. Even if you win, you've lost. Bigger players than you made that experience. Creative Labs abused the law to destroy Aureal over alleged claims, all of which proved wrong. Aureal won the lawsuits but still went insolvent afterwards. Subsequently, Creative bought the liquidated company and its assets.

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As the OP never specified their country, we can only guess at what IP laws and what free speech laws are in effect.

 

 

Samoth brings up my biggest concern: Can you afford a lawsuit? Just because you are right does not mean you can afford the cost of the legal system. Even if a judge declares you to be fully legally justified, since you created an actual controversy you are unlikely to see any compensation for the lawsuit. 

 
Satire exemptions are usually extremely limited. They are also up to the judge, so two cases that appear similar to one person may seem different to the judge. Just because something seems comedic to a few people does not mean it reaches the level of being satire.  Remember that satire is different from humor. Many things have humor but do not reach the level of satire, and many satires do not use humor.
 
 
Ultimately this falls under the frequent recommendation to see a lawyer who is familiar with intellectual property laws, especially with experience in games. If you cannot afford $150-$500 in legal fees now, you absolutely cannot afford the potentially millions in legal fees required to fight a courtroom battle.
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